JUSTICE Minister Given Lubinda says the church cannot be at the helm of the constitution making process because Zambia is not a theocracy.
And Lubinda says Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo’s complaint that he is breaching parliamentary privilege by debating Bill 10 on various media platforms is flimsy.
Meanwhile, Lubinda says government decided to gazette amendments to Bill 10 as a show of goodwill that it has no intentions of dribbling citizens as some stakeholders were insinuating.
Speaking when he featured on Diamond TV’s Diamond Live program, Friday, Lubinda said it was not in order for the church to lead the constitution making process.
“There is nowhere in the world today where there is a theocracy. Zambia is not a theocracy where the church must come up with laws, no. It is Parliament that comes up with laws, not the church. It can’t be done by the church and it also can’t be led by the church. You want Parliament to be governed by the church? The legislative power of Zambia derives from the people and is exercised by Parliament. The church are participants but they cannot be expected to legislate, no it’s not their role. The legislative function, according to the Constitution is exercised by Parliament, no one else, except the executive,” Lubinda said.
He wondered why the Zambia Council for Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) was crying foul when they did not make submissions both to the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) and the parliamentary select committee, despite being invited.
“So is it our problem that ZCCB did not go to make their submissions at NDF, no it’s not. And it’s not only ZCCB, many people are complaining about the process and saying ‘no, they are not listening to the committee of parliament, they haven’t heard our views’, but then you ask, did you made your views known? No. Did you make submissions to the Ministry of Justice? Did you submit to NDF? No. Did you submit to committee of parliament? No. But how did you expect us to delve into your thoughts to see this is what this gentleman or this lady is thinking about, or this is what this organisation is thinking about to build consensus? If you don’t come to take part in preparing the dinner, don’t condemn it. Don’t, it’s very cheeky to do that, once I invite you, please, you invited me come to this program, come and explain and I refuse and then you misquote me, will I have any reason to complain? No. you will say but I gave you the platform,” he said.
“Again, I want to ask you, is it consensus only when your view takes prominence, that’s when it’s consensus? When your view is not accepted it’s not consensus? Is that your interpretation of consensus? No, that’s a very thin way of defining consensus. People went to the NDF, was ZCCB invited? Yes, they were, did they come, no they didn’t, and were they stopped from going, no they were not.”
And Lubinda said nothing stopped him from debating Bill 10.
“Mr Gary Nkombo can knock all sorts of allegations but this particular one is totally flimsy. There is nothing whatsoever that stops me or any other person or any member of parliament from debating a matter because it is in parliament, nothing whatsoever. There is no law in this country that says because this bill is before parliament, don’t debate it outside. Secondly, the issue of Mr Gary Nkombo going to parliament on the 17th of March and raising a point of order and referring to a matter that was in court and asking Mr Speaker whether or not parliament should continue to debate Bill 10 is not an issue because Mr Speaker reserved his ruling. He didn’t make a ruling and because he did not make a ruling, I am not compelled to assume that Mr Gary Nkombo’s point of order is valid, no, what is valid is the fact that parliament had already started debating Bill 10 and nobody pronounced the curtailment of that process,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lubinda said government only had good intentions on Bill 10.
“Today again, I decided to do an unprecedented act, I did this because I don’t want anyone to say I didn’t follow, I didn’t know what was happening. Never in the history of Zambia has a Minister of Justice gazetted amendments, never. Why am I doing it, it is because I don’t want to leave anyone behind, anybody saying ‘they are going to manipulate’, I want them presented to parliament, I said I am committed to these amendments, they say no you will manipulate. Today I say alright, I am going to show you not only the blood on my palm, I will also show you the blood in my heart, I am going to gazette this thing so that you can hold me accountable, again they are saying, no he is going to manipulate. So let me make this clear, Constitution making is not about unanimity, no, it is about consensus, not unison,” said Lubinda.
“And I can say here as an honest and sincere person, when I went through the gazette, I noticed they were some errors. And I want to make it very clear here, they were some errors, if people see that there is a retention of 14 days for the petition of the president, that’s an error. What I meant to put in is 30 days, that’s what the Nakacinda report says. That’s how sincere I am, that is an error, we made a mistake, people who were preparing that document made that mistake. That is how sincere I can be, I have nothing to hide, this Constitution is not for me, this Constitution is not for President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, and this Constitution is not for PF it is for the people of Zambia.”